Original Title: Perséphone

Publication: 2024

Author: Benjamin Carteret

Kore was born into a land devastated by conflict. Her father, Zeus, the god of sky and thunder, in alliance with his brothers and sisters, had just won a decade-long war waged against their own parents. As a child, she saw the scars left by these years of conflict in the faces of her mother and grandmother; her mother, Demeter, often waking feverishly in the night, unable to sleep. Following his victory, Zeus shared out the kingdoms amongst his inner circle; while he ruled the skies, his brothers Poseidon and Hades were permitted to reign over the oceans and the underworld. His sister, Demeter, received a crown of wheat allowing her to heal the earth and conjure fertility out of the soil and nature. And it is within this violent and hierarchical family that Kore grows up. However, unlike her numerous siblings and cousins who rarely leave Mount Olympus, Kore spends most of her days far from the sacred city. Outside, on the plains, she toils with her mother in the fields, as Demeter instructs the mortals in agriculture and teaches them how to coax crops and food from the soil. And, with time, after resisting this humble existence, Kore comes to see her family in a new light and questions the immense privilege and riches they have amassed and refuse to share with the humanity that surrounds them.

When Kore is on the cusp of womanhood, the gods are impatient to see her powers emerge. Demeter awaits this change with both pride and anxiety, knowing first hand as she does the fate meted out to the female members of the family by the patriarch as they blossom. By now at ease working alongside the mortals, Kore rejects the imposed superiority of the Heaven gods, embracing instead her proximity with Earth. As she becomes more in tune with the pulse of nature and the voices of her ancestors, her power starts to bloom and she reveals herself one day during a sumptuous banquet at Zeus’s palace: she is Spring, and with Demeter, Rhea, her grandmother, and Gaia, the original Earth, Kore is the fourth guardian of the ancestral element.

But her announcement also garners unwanted attention from some quarters and an unexpected visit from her uncle, Hades, late one evening, raises questions in her mind as to her role and future. Shortly afterwards, as Kore gathers the poppies, daisies and thistles which flourish in her wake, a golden carriage drawn by frothing black horses erupts from beneath and carries her down into the bowels of the earth. Demeter, beside herself with grief at the disappearance of her beloved daughter, scours the land and sea before deciding in desperation to allow winter to invade the previously lush and fertile kingdoms of her siblings. Hunger and famine ensue. When the mortals have to fight for survival and no longer have time for burning sacrifices or praising the gods, even Zeus’s immense power is threatened.

Far from Helios’ rays and her mother's embrace, Kore, meanwhile, explores the shadowy kingdom of Hades and discovers that her uncle and the circumstances of her kidnapping are not all she imagines. As she gains confidence in this new existence, her powers simmer and grow, and, in the core of Earth itself, Kore becomes Persephone, the fully formed goddess of Spring, bursting with fire and light, life and rebellion. Determined to shake off the shackles of Zeus’s domination which have muzzled her and the other Earth goddesses for so long, Persephone returns to the surface of her own volition. Reunited with her mother, they look to the future, to the next generation and the possibility of a new order: an order not steeped in violence, domination and fear, but one of freedom and nurture that awakens and burns with tranquil yet fiery promise.

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Original Language

FRENCH | Charleston/Leduc
FRENCH (ppbk) | Livre de Poche